I love planning travel. I plan all of our family’s trips. Even if it’s just to the beach or the mountains. I create a very flexible itinerary. I’ve done it for trips with the in-laws and for trips with friends. Every time I have created an itinerary for our trips, I’ve enjoyed the attractions that we’ve seen; the restaurants we’ve eaten at; the coffee shops and bakeries that you can’t miss and the beer that we’ve drank.
Why do I do it? I enjoy it and I have a serious case of FOMO (“Fear of Missing Out”). Since I want to travel somewhere and feel like I’ve experienced everything, my wife knows that I won’t leave anything out.
I also love learning new things about where we are traveling. Things that I used to forget. For example, before I became a travel agent I had a coffee at this ridiculous coffee shop near Bryce Canyon, and now can’t figure out where it is located or what it was called. Bummer. Especially since we want to take our kids to “Utah Rocks,” one day.
Anyway, because I have made itineraries for our trips, I also have recommendations to those places since they are kind of one in the same. Create an itinerary for a trip and actually enjoy where you went or what you did or even have tips on how to make the next trip for someone else or for yourself better, well, I’ve learned to write that down and share it with others.
Want an example? Here is an example itinerary to the Boone/Blowing Rock area: Example Itinerary and here is a list of Recommendations to the same location: Example Recommendations. For an itinerary somewhere, I am going to charge approximately $25 per day (not days traveling), but I would still need to quote out a price before beginning. For a list of recommendations somewhere, I would only charge $25. Either way, for a minimal price you would get information about recommended attractions, breweries, coffee shops/bakeries or ice cream shops, night out options and restaurants; including websites, addresses, phone numbers, hours, cost and any other pertinent helpful notes to make your trip even better.
Check it out for yourself: http://www.fostertravels.com/personal-assistant.html
My 15-month and I stopped by the chiropractor today and I was wearing an “Utah Rocks” t-shirt. He took a look at the shirt and asked me which of the 5 were my favorite. So, I preceded to let him know my Top 5 in order: 1. Bryce Canyon National Park, 2. Arches National Park, 3. Capital Reef National Park, 4. Zion National Park and finally 5. Canyonlands National Park. This may surprise you as Zion National Park is typically rated higher. I have nothing against Zion National Park, I just think that the other 3 were so spectacular to me that as famous as Zion National Park is that the other 3 were just more amazing to me.
My favorite: Bryce Canyon National Park. This National Park was so amazing that if we had a boy instead of girls, we strongly considered naming him Bryce. This place has got it all, the perfect amount of hiking with a variety of rock formations. The Hoodoos were so unusual and the overlooks were breathtaking. To cap it off, we enjoyed a coffee at a coffee shop that was literally on the way to the next National Park.
The phenomenal thing about Arches National Park was how the arches were made. We went to Arches on the last day of our trip and after convincing Audrey to hike to the main arch, I can tell you I am glad I was able to convince her. It is much bigger than it appears and as you walk near it you get to witness how large of an arch it is.
Capital Reef National Park was surprisingly good, but you have to do your homework. I read up on all of the trails and thought that the variety at Capital Reef was outstanding. So, were the different shade of color all of the rocks had. Finally, we went on a sunset hike that didn’t disappoint.
Zion National Park was great, especially Angel’s Landing. It was scary to hear how some people had died on that hike. Secretly, it did make it a little more of a feat knowing that both my wife and I made it through alive. The views at the top were remarkable. Even though Angel’s Landing didn’t disappoint, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the rest of the National Park.
I got some of my best pictures during the vacation at Canyonlands National Park. However, was disappointed by all of the driving. Also, I like to be hiking within all of the rock formations and to see the amazing rock formations at Canyonlands National Park you have to be walking above them.
All in all, this vacation is still my favorite. My shirt says: “Carving, sliding, layering, depositing, faulting, eroding, freezing, flowing, lifting, petrifying, folding and collapsing. The Geologic Story of Utah.” I highly recommend going to all 5 National Parks. Don’t believe me when I tell you how much I like it, just go to my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fostertravels/ or my website: http://www.fostertravels.com/ to see for yourself.
This past Sunday my wife and I were out and about running errands and one of our errands was to buy a new car seat for my daughter.
She’s 15-months-old and sits up in her current car seat, which is a booster car seat. We believe that she is ready to face forward and so thought that we should swing by a local baby store to pick up a new car seat. Picking out my 3-year-old’s current car seat was actually relatively easy, so picking out a car seat for a 15-month-old should be a breeze… right?
We thought for sure that we were going to buy her a new booster seat. Looking at the booster seats in stock, the first thing that we looked for that it needed to have 2 cup holders. We let the girls drink both milk and water in the car in their “no spill” sippy cups. Say what you will, we chose the ease of letting them have these cups in the car and dealing with any consequences later.
We found the one that we wanted. It was the Platinum Evolve 3 in 1 Combination Booster Seat.
This seat was perfect for our daughter, because she runs host and it has TempRight Fabric that is designed to keep the child cool and comfortable while traveling. Looking around the selection above, we notice that it’s not in stock. A clerk checks and tells us it’s in stock in another store, that’s 30 minutes away. We can purchase it on Amazon, but it will take 1-2 months for delivery.
Hmm… While we are processing this news, the car seat expert in the store finally arrives to help. He tells my wife, while I’m letting my restless 15-month-old practice walking, that a convertible car seat may be the way to go instead especially if your child will nap in the car, which makes sense. Our first daughter was a non-napper, early. Can’t remember for sure, but I believe she gave up napping by the age of 15-months. Our second daughter is still napping strong, somewhere between 2-4 hours a day.
She’s also a good traveler, which wasn’t our first daughter’s best trait. So, we are excited to start taking trips together as a family. Hence, I became a travel agent :). Problem was that it was lunch time and are girls were breaking down, so we figured we would think about it and come back to it later that day.
After we put the girl’s down, I jumped online to see what the best convertible car seat was that also was great for babies that run hot. Not even 5 minutes later we landed on the Maxi-Cosi Pria 70 Convertible Car Seat. It has 630 reviews on Amazon with 4.5 Stars, is easy to clean and has self-wicking fabric that deodorizes and draws liquids away from the skin to help keep your child dry and comfortable. Only 1 cup holder, though ;). It's crazy how your experience with both kids can be so different.
Working as a travel agent has done nothing but excite me about what are travel schedule looks like in the next… 20 years or so! So, one day I wrote down a Very Rough Draft of where I want to go with my family each year, for the next 20 years. It’s important to plan, though I am well aware plans change.
Not sure how many vacations your family is planning on taking. However, I think it’s reasonable for our family to take 1 Big vacation every year.
Here is the list. I will explain some of my thoughts below it. Please comment any other suggestions or any feedback regarding your opinion on these locations.
My little girl is only 14 months old.
So, here is the vacation we are planning on taking when she turns:
8-A NC Lighthouse Tour
10-East Coast Caverns
11-A Dude Ranch in the Colorado Rockies
13-Hard Rock Hotels
14-Italy & Germany
15-England & Scotland
16-New Zealand & Australia
Alright, here is my explanation as well:
3- Disney Cruise-Free babysitting. I’ve just heard that they are amazing and I can’t wait to go.
4- Nickelodeon Resorts Punta Cana-The kids love Dora, Paw Patrol and some of their other shows and I just think that it would be good to go here while they still do. Probably not staying in the pineapple though. Mainly, because I’m not a huge fan of Sponge Bob.
5- Disney World-I’ve heard that ages 6 & 10 are the best time to take the kids to Disney World. So, when one of my daughters is 5 the other one will be 7 and hopefully both will still be really interested in princesses.
6- Disneyland-Same idea as above. Figure I’ve got to go here at least once. Plus, my Sister lives nearby.
7- Beaches Resorts: What’s better than a family-friendly resort. Especially one that is Sponsored by Sesame Street.
8- A NC Lighthouse Tour- Enough said.
9- Disney World- This time for the rides.
10- An East Coast Cavern Vacation- Because there are a ton of amazing caverns in our area.
11- Horseback Riding in the Colorado Rockies- Because this is the vacation my family took for 7 years in a row. I just want to take the girls once.
12- Utah Rocks- Because it’s still my favorite vacation and I’d love for the girls to experience it.
13- Hard Rock Hotels- They have a ton of cool things for teenagers to do. Can’t be much more of a teenager if you are 13 and 15.
14-18: Are not set in stone. They are just amazing trips that I would love to take. I figured taking the girls to different countries at this point in their life would be more meaningful.
Hope you like my list and my reasonings. Maybe I gave you an idea. Maybe I gave you lots of ideas.
Maybe you could give me some ideas?
My wife and I recently celebrated our eight-year wedding anniversary, and instead of the usual (and frankly, expected) exchange of gifts and a nice steak dinner downtown we decided to get away for the weekend. About thirty minutes away. The Umstead Hotel and Spa, located right off of I-40 in Cary, NC, had always been on our bucket list of places to experience. It’s well-known, highly rated, and the website makes it seem like the ultimate getaway no matter where you’re coming from.
There are many advantages of a staycation. We were able to maximize our time on the property since we did not have to travel out of town, and it relieved a little bit of the stress of leaving the kids knowing they were not far. And although The Umstead is luxury experience and is priced as such, we did not need to spend money on food while traveling or much money on gas.
We took advantage of one of their special packages. They include “The Umstead Experience” (the top of the line), and various other arrangements that takes advantage of the onsite spa and fine dining restaurant, Herons. We chose a package that included a one-night stay in a lake view room and an 80-minute couples massage in the on-site spa. Upon arriving on the property, I instantly knew it would be something special.
From the decor to the attentiveness of the staff, The Umstead was easily the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. We lounged by the pool, where a wait staff ensured that we always had a bottle of water and adult beverage in our hand. The spa experience was the main attraction, and lived up to our expectations of being completely relaxed and transported to a place far away from the grind of our daily lives. And although we didn’t dine at the fine restaurant, Herons, we were more than satisfied with the offerings from the bar kitchen.
The takeaway: you don’t need to spend money on travel expenses to have a truly romantic and relaxing escape. During our all-to-brief stay at The Umstead, there were several times when I forgot I was in Cary. Indeed, I felt hours away from home even though I was right down the street.
Will Klinger- is a fellow Stay At-Home Dad and member of the Triangle Stay at Home Dads, the Chapel Hill/Carrboro Dads and SODU Parents Posse.
My wife and I are planning our next trip. I have been thinking lately about how much work it is Just to even start your trip planning, nonetheless actually plan What you are going to do when you get there. It really boils down to the 5 W's (Who, What, When, Where & Why?). I took out How, because the 5 W's & the 1 H doesn't sound as cool. I may also talk about them out of order as well, but here has been my thought process for our upcoming trip to Boone/Blowing Rock.
Why?: This may be the most obvious question. To get away. We are going to try to get away at least once a quarter. If not for my job, then also because its healthy and can be a lot of fun!
Who?: Not sure if anyone read it, however I did a blog article a little while ago that was all about traveling with friends. So, we wanted to make it happen. So, for this next trip we have reached out to some friends and we think its going to work out.
Where?: Already did the beach thing this summer with a family trip to Carolina Beach. Btw, if you would like a list of recommendations for Carolina Beach, I can send pre-done recommendations to you for $25. So, living where we are living, quick trips are often decided between beach and mountains. So, Mountains it is! Now, I've heard great things about Tweetsie Railroad. So, we are looking at using VRBO to rent a cabin near both Blowing Rock and Boone.
When?: I quickly did some research and found out that the weekend of October 7th is the best weekend to go to the Boone/Blowing Rock area for the Fall colors. Then, reached out to our friends and they are free too!
What?: As in what are we going to do when we get there. Well, that's my next research project and it could benefit you too. You can have this trip's pre-done research to, after its done. Also, remember that I custom plan trips for anyone, if they are interested. All I ask is a meeting and the ability to give you a quote for my time.
A friend recently told me, “We are stressed out right now, we need to travel.” This got me thinking about how important traveling is to me, my family and the people that I love or even like :). I whole heartedly agreed with him and it sounds like he was able to encourage the rest of his family as well. So, good for him.
This got me to thinking… “Why do I (specifically) travel?” First of all, I’m fortunate that I can travel. But, if I had to some up why I enjoy it so much I would probably narrow it down to these Top 3 reasons: 1. That’s it typically relaxing. 2. That you are creating new Memories and 3. That it’s an amazing break in the routine. Now, this probably comes as no surprise to you-but, maybe I can give you more ammunition to use with the rest of your family or whomever you are traveling with?
Last weekend, my family and I went to a friend’s lake house. It was so Chill. It was awesome to have such few worries in the world for once. I’ve noticed that despite how the trip goes, I am definitely way less stressed after a trip/vacation then I normally am. Not that I am typically high-strung, but there is something about a vacation that relaxes me.
You may have noticed from my website that I love taking pictures. Sure, a lot of people do. True. Many of the best memories that I have growing up are from our vacations. I know that most of my favorite pictures are those taken from vacations. Plus, we still talk about the trips we’ve taken as a couple/family.
I am a variety person, so taking a trip is also a great break in the routine. To quote Office Space, “Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day.” I am always a little sad after a great trip, like the trip to the Lake House this past weekend, but I know that that means we are doing something right on our trips.
Hope that I can somehow help you with yours?
So, I’ve always thought that vacations are supposed to be with Family. That is until I recently took our beach trip to Carolina Beach with my in-laws. That trip is starting to change my mind, but in a good way. :)
Don’t get me wrong. I Love my family. I Love spending quality time with my family. I also think that Family-Only trips are important. Just like trips with just my Wife. That’s a lot of trips, if we can afford it.
However, recently I have seen the benefit in traveling with friends more and more. From what I can see, I think it comes down to about 3 reasons: that your kids could have a playdate with their kids, that you could possibly have a date night while they watch your kids and finally that when you are “stuck” at home you may not feel as stuck because you are spending that time with good friends.
Your kids have a playdate with another families kids. My 3 year-old daughter would be ecstatic if we took a trip with just 1 of her friends. Heck, my daughter wouldn’t even care if we took a trip with a couple of kids whom technically she’s not really friends with, but instead gets along with.
The chance that you can actually have some quality time with your partner away from where you are staying goes up exponentially. If you have good sleepers and can get them to bed at a reasonable hour and can trust the friends that you have brought along with you on this vacation. You Can Go On A Date Night! Now, I realize that there are a lot of “ands” there, but I feel like we have good sleepers, early sleepers and great friends for the first time in our life!
Finally, even if you and the other family that you are traveling with decide to take a date night. You will probably still have at least one night in which you are all hanging out together. Then, you have options, you can either hang out and talk (outside preferably), play games or watch a movie, etc… This could add to the variety of activities during the evenings that you spend together while on a trip.
Now, if traveling with another couple is not your thing. That’s cool. But, if anyone knows my wife and I, you will know that we like to be around people. It pumps us up. So, for us, traveling with friends may be an incredible option to consider. As long as you get along with them well and have tested this fact before traveling, hopefully each party will also be on their best behavior during the trip. :)
You may know this about me already or you may have noticed it either on my LinkedIn profile or read it in a previous blog, however I am also a part-time Stay At-Home Dad (SAHD). As a SAHD, I try to leave the house once per day/every day. Thanks to the Triangle Stay At-Home Dads, I attend Tuesday and Thursday playgroups regularly with other Dads and their children. Then, usually the other 2 days of the week I am running errands with the kids (chiropractor, grocery shopping, library, etc...).
That typically leaves me 1 day per week in which I explore. It probably wouldn't surprise you that I keep a list of my favorite places to take the kids and I try to make sure that I mix it up and take them somewhere randomly. Depending on my mood, the weather, where we've gone recently and where we'd like to go; we either head to a Park, a Playdate with another Dad, Lunch (typically at a new place that I'd like to try) or keep it at an Inside location (I try my hardest to get the kids outside).
My favorite Parks to take the kids too include parks that are close to where we live, of course, and parks that are too good to pass up. For a park to be worth my time it should be creative, unusual, safe and fun. Some of the best parks near where I live include: Kelly Road Park, Bond Park, Morrisville Community Park, Carpenter Park and Laurel Hills Park. A couple of recommended parks that aren't necessarily close to where I live, but are worth the trip are the RDU Observation Park and Pullen Park.
If its a rainy or snowy day and you still need to get out of the house, there are also a couple of places Inside that I would recommend. Some of my favorite Indoor locations to take the kids include: Monkey Joe's Bounce House, the Museum of Life and Science, the Museum of Natural Sciences, Marbles Kid's Museum, the Rainbow Room, Notasium and the RDU Observation Park/Tower has an inside location as well.
If you are considering stay home with your kids, it is a choice I would recommend. For me, starting a travel agency and getting out of the house (hopefully with another SAHD) are ways in which I have been able to prolong how long I have stayed home. It is something I would recommend and I hope that my suggestions help.
Anyone who knows me, knows how important music is to me. So, they wouldn't be too surprised to know that one of my first blog posts was about music. When I travel, I primarily like to listen to music. Depending on the circumstance, I will be listening to either the radio or my IPhone or Pandora or a Podcast.
I heard, on the radio, that 93% of Americans still listen to the radio. I like to listen to the radio as well, especially the morning shows. However, I don't like listening to commercials, so listening to the radio does have a shelf life depending on what is playing and how many commercials are on.
Usually if the radio isn't doing it for me, I will listen to my IPhone. I will either shuffle songs, do a quick playlist in my head of songs that I want to listen to or listen to a pre-done playlists. My playlists are my bread and butter. A few years ago, I consolidated my songs with my wife's songs and made standard playlists. These playlists include the following categories: BPM (Beats Per Minute), Chilling Mix, Dance Mix, Dinner Mix, Party Mix, Really Chill Mix, Relaxation Mix and Workout Mix. Most of the titles of these mixes and what they are used for make total sense. Besides the obvious mixes, BPM is a type of music that my wife likes, Chilling Mix is basically all of my favorite songs, Dinner Mix is a mix of relaxing music and new music that I have recently purchased and the difference between Really Chill Mix and Relaxation Mix is that basically the songs in the Relaxation Mix could put you to sleep!
For Pandora in the car, its all about the kids for me. I let them listen to a Pandora mix in the car a little less than 1/2 the time we are in the car and usually on the ride home. The Pandora mix is basically a mix of music from their favorite TV shows or movies or groups specifically for kids. This mix does get updated periodically, because Daddy can sometimes get tired of hearing from a specific channel, like Barney. :)
Lastly, if I am along in the car, I like to listen to Podcasts. My podcasts are always updating depending on my interested, but some of my Podcasts that have stayed around for awhile include: my church's podcast, travel agency job related podcasts, "Tell Me Something I Don't Know", "Pod Save America", "The Tim Ferriss Show", "TED Radio Hour" and "Freakonomics Radio".
Hopefully I have given you some ideas of something you could listen to while you are traveling? Please comment below with some of the things you listen to.